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Christians At The Movies: LATCHO DROM, BONNIE & CLYDE..


Ron Reed
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Anne Lamott's wonderful Traveling Mercies has a piece about LATCHO DROM, the movie about gypsey dance and music, and the way God spoke to her through it. I also think about Tom Key, a wonderful actor who developed Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Gospel into the widely-performed stage musical, who talked in "Christianity Today" about the key role BONNIE & CLYDE played in his conversion.

Can anybody think of other believers who have written about the impact films have had on their life? Or more generally, who have simply included comments on movies in their writings, whether at a personal level or not?

I'm not so much looking for books written specifically about movies - Reel Spirituality or Hollywood Worldviews or such - but rather other sorts of writings that include at least some talk about movies. The Jesus I Never Knew would be an example, now that I think of it: not specifically about film, but lots of references to the Jesus movies he used in that class he taught.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Phillip Yancey speaks favorably about Forrest Gump in The Jesus I Never Knew... and he also speaks not so favorably about Pulp Fiction.

I would take the opposite angle, actually. But I understood the point he was making.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Phillip Yancey speaks favorably about Forrest Gump in The Jesus I Never

: Knew... and he also speaks not so favorably about Pulp Fiction.

I do not recall him commenting on those films in The Jesus I Never Knew, but I do recall him commenting on them in What's So Amazing About Grace?.

: I would take the opposite angle, actually.

Me too. Pulp Fiction is all about second chances, whereas Forrest Gump is a very punitive film -- if you're abused as a child, you'll die of AIDS, and if God ever answers your prayers and gives you success, it's only because he destroys all your neighbours, etc. So it boggled my mind to see Yancey say that Forrest Gump was the more "grace-ful" film, just because it begins and ends with a feather floating on the breeze. (For that matter, Yancey's suggestion that Pulp Fiction was unpopular compared to Forrest Gump also falls apart once you recognize that Forrest Gump was a major studio film whereas Pulp Fiction was the first "independent" film to crack the $100 million barrier -- in other words, for the kind of film it was, Pulp Fiction was a major hit, and I think its element of "grace", such as it was, played a big part in that.) But I'm just going by my memory of what Yancey wrote here, so forgive me if I'm misrepresenting him.

Alas, Ron, I cannot think of any examples that answer your question just yet, though I know one of BC Christian News's former publishers credits Jesus Christ Superstar with starting him on the path towards becoming a Christian.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: Phillip Yancey speaks favorably about Forrest Gump ...

: and he also speaks not so favorably about Pulp Fiction....

: I would take the opposite angle, actually.

Me too. Pulp Fiction is all about second chances, whereas Forrest Gump is a very punitive film -- if you're abused as a child, you'll die of AIDS, and if God ever answers your prayers and gives you success, it's only because he destroys all your neighbours, etc. So it boggled my mind to see Yancey say that Forrest Gump was the more "grace-ful" film, just because it begins and ends with a feather floating on the breeze.

It's been years since I've seen either, but I liked both very much. As for the grace element, I'd need to refresh my mind about the details of both, but the overall impression I'm left with is that there's plenty of grace in GUMP, and I have a hard time remembering much in PULP. I may revisit each in the next while: if so, I'll be intrigued to keep all this in mind.

Thanks, gentlemen, for the Yancy tip! Exactly what I'm after.

Alas, Ron, I cannot think of any examples that answer your question just yet, though I know one of BC Christian News's former publishers credits Jesus Christ Superstar with starting him on the path towards becoming a Christian.

Interesting. I also happen to know that's true of one of the Advisory Board dudes. Looks like BCCN owes a certain debt to Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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In Reel Spirituality Johnson tells of speaking at a conference about how Becket was influential to his discovery of call. One who was there, Father Elmer Gregory (who leads a film retreat twice a year at St. Andrew's Abbey), shared that he too was influenced in his call by the same film.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Father Elmer Gregory (who leads a film retreat twice a year at St. Andrew's Abbey), shared that he too was influenced in his call by the same film.
Love that story. And thanks for the link to St Andrew's...

SPIRITUALITY AND CONTEMPORARY CINEMA

The greatest human and spiritual truths are always embodied in stories and narratives. Today the burden of storytelling is carried by movies. We will view four films and have intensive discussions of how spiritual realities are shown through their plots, symbols, acting and so forth. Since many people today watch a lot of movies, this workshop seeks to raise and focus their consciousness of the medium and be better able to use it in the ongoing project of spiritual growth.

Wish I lived close! I wonder what films they're going to look at?

Do you know St Andrew's? Or Father Elmer?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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I've attended the film retreat once, I want to try to fit it in again next year. The time I went the theme was (as I recall) Bumping into God. We saw 4 films: Fearless, Tender Mercies, End of the Affair and The Third Miracle. Some very good discussion, especially re: Fearless. For anyone in the LA area, I'd recommend it. Also Valyermo is a great place to get away, enjoy the worship, and unwind.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I've attended the film retreat once, I want to try to fit it in again next year. The time I went the theme was (as I recall) Bumping into God. We saw 4 films: Fearless, Tender Mercies, End of the Affair and The Third Miracle.

Wow! Great set of movies!

Some very good discussion, especially re: Fearless. For anyone in the LA area, I'd recommend it. Also Valyermo is a great place to get away, enjoy the worship, and unwind.

I've been thinking about this idea all day, since checking ou their website. Could you tell me a bit more about the format of the weekend? You view the films together, there. Do you know in advance what will screen? Is is a good idea to view them ahead, or are you encouraged to see them fresh? Is there a lot of discussion time following? Is there silent reflection time built in? I'm guessing one movie Firday night, two Saturday, one Sunday afternoon or so? How many participants? I'm really intrigued by the idea of hosting such a weekend retreat.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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1 Film Friday night, 1 Sat. morning, 1 Sat. night, 1 Sunday morning. Sat. afternoon is pretty much free for reflection. And since its a Benedictine abbey, there are the prayers throughout the day that you are welcome to share in. Mass on Sunday after the movie, then lunch.

There were about 24-30 people there, covering a wide range of ages. Father Gregory has a wonderful understanding of film. He has a good grasp of theology (even if it may not always mesh with mine [what a surprise!]).

Didn't know what we'd see til we got there. Watched each film together, then had c. 45 min. discussion after.

I'm also thinking of trying to do something like this. One thought is having a monthly movie using this format. If that works out, perhaps block a weekend, and preach on the theme in worship to close.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Ron wrote:

: As for the grace element, I'd need to refresh my mind about the details

: of both, but the overall impression I'm left with is that there's plenty of

: grace in GUMP, and I have a hard time remembering much in PULP.

Well, as I recall, Forrest Gump was a profoundly cynical film that tricked many people into thinking it was grace-ful because it had sentimental music and the like. This is the film which begins by showing how Gump gets ahead in school after his mother sleeps with the principal, after all, and then there is the element of punitiveness which I mentioned above. Whereas Pulp Fiction is three short stories strung together, and all three of these stories are about people who are given second chances in life. The story goes that Tarantino went up to Zemeckis once and said he thought it was funny how everyone seemed to think Pulp Fiction was the more subversive film, and I agree.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Thanks for the rundown, Darrel! This idea is really catching my interest. Put a real "spiritual retreat" emphasis on it all, rather than simply a "let's discuss movies" tone, but really take seriously the interaction with the film itself. Find a suitable setting, on one of the gulf islands around here... Hmmm...

I'm also thinking of trying to do something like this. One thought is having a monthly movie using this format. If that works out, perhaps block a weekend, and preach on the theme in worship to close.

A couple years ago I did a monthly movie group with some people from church. It was a smash hit! But we did it more like a book group: everyone was to have watched the movie prior to the session, then we'd just show scenes to stimulate discussion. It just gives way more time for interaction than if you watch the movie together and then do the conversation, though I'm sure either way can work well.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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I remember Philip Yancey saying in What's so Amazing About Grace that Forrest Gump was graceful because the central character still was kind to his girlfriend in spite of her unfaithfulness and gracious towards Gary Sinese's character even when he rebukes Gump for saving him during the Vietnam war. This would indicate grace, at least to me.

Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump seem to portray different aspects of grace. One describes redemption by mercy (Pulp), the other consistant application of forgiveness (even if it looked naive) in a world ravaged by "un-grace" as Yancey uses the term. One is supernatural (Pulp), the other incarnational (Gump).

If Forrest Gump was a cynical film then according to Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide he thought the film lost much of the book's satrical edge. He went on to say that you either go with this film or don't swallow it, the implication being that the film was presented as overtly sentimental and not true to the orginal source and so ineffectual.

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I remember Philip Yancey saying in What's so Amazing About Grace that Forrest Gump was graceful because the central character still was kind to his girlfriend in spite of her unfaithfulness and gracious towards Gary Sinese's character even when he rebukes Gump for saving him during the Vietnam war. This would indicate grace, at least to me.

Yes, that's the sort of impression it left with me, as well. Forrest as a character who suffered cruelty, but didn't return evil for evil. An embodiment of grace. Sounds good to me!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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I'm going a different direction with Gump this week. Clips of the film will be used often in the worship service, starting with the opening credits (feather floating by church steeples, landing at his feet) as call to worship; ending with the feather floating away for the sending forth. I'm using the lection from Proverbs in last week's lectionary (I didn't preach last week), Prov. 1:20-33 of Wisdom crying out in the streets and what will befall those who do not listen. In the sermon, I'll note a few of Forrest's proverbs: life is like a box of choclits..., stupid is as stupid does, sometimes there just aren't enough rocks. I'll also show 3 clips of how he is recieved. The first, the woman on the bench he first encounters -- she has sore feet, she pays him no mind. The second, the man who scoffs at the idea that this man of limited intelligence could be a CEO of a corporation. (Scoffers are really nailed in the lection) The third a woman who let's her bus go by so she can stay and listen.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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I'm going a different direction with Gump this week. ....

Cool! I love the way you're weaving it through, finding a number of different resonances with the scripture text. Really nice.

Level with us, though: you're actually just doing this to bug Chattaway, right?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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